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tag: voice

Disquiet Junto Project 0266: Vocal Cuts

Use segments of your own held vowel to make music.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 6, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, February 2, 2017.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0266: Vocal Cuts
Use segments of your own held vowel to make music.

Step 1: Set up a recording device to properly capture in detail your singing — more specifically, you holding a single vowel for an extended period of time.

Step 2: Practice holding a vowel for a long time, until your voice starts to give a little and the vowel disintegrates. Try “ah” and “oo” and “uh,” in particular. Maybe avoid “ee,” as it can be harsh. Don’t hurt yourself, don’t stress the end — just let it fade out naturally. This isn’t about pushing it until you have to breathe. It’s just about holding it until the vowel comes to a sense of closure.

Step 3: Listen back to the recording. Think about distinct segments within it, moments with differing qualities.

Step 4: Extract those segments and label them accordingly.

Step 5: Record a short piece of music consisting only of the segments from Step 4. You can cut and paste them, and certainly layer them. Try to not do anything to them — filters, effects, etc. — other than occasionally altering volume, as need be. A mono recording is best, too — no stereoscopic play.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If you hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0266″ (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at please consider posting your track:

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 6, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, February 2, 2017.

Length: The length is up to you, but two to three minutes sounds about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0266″ in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 266th weekly Disquiet Junto project, “Vocal Cuts: Use segments of your own held vowel to make music”:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this track is by Dean Shareski and used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

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The Vocal Layers of Sea Beau

One minute of feather-light strata from Toronto

This short burst of vocal simultaneity by the Toronto-based musician Sea Beau dates back a year, but I heard it for the first time this weekend while tracking various Canadian (and Detroit-based) performers and composers on SoundCloud. I go in and out of use of various streaming services. The past six months I’ve been much deeper in YouTube, in a way I never have before, for example, and Bandcamp has nudged up as well. One point of frustration with both YouTube and Bandcamp is they don’t foreground as well as SoundCloud does the musical connections of the posting account. Somehow these two services seem to think that we want to know what our fellow listeners listen to, but on YouTube we’re left to largely automated, algorithm-driven recommendations in terms of what the source audio might connect us to, and Bandcamp doesn’t even invest that many computing cycles.

On SoundCloud every account has a clearly marked list each of following and followers, which can make for a fluid series of forking discovery paths. (That’s “discovery” in the active sense of looking around, not the passive sense of “look what the music conveyor belt served up.”) With BandCamp, my “feed” tells me what the listeners I follow have purchased lately, and any individual album lists who it is “supported by,” but the service doesn’t allow, in the manner SoundCloud does, that the person who posted music might themselves listen to music. Some YouTube accounts show their subscriptions, but it isn’t consistent.

In any case, this piece by Sea Beau is an absolutely gorgeous, endlessly loopable polyphonic series of vocal intonations. It is all non-verbal, feather-light vowels produced as closely knit strata. The tones are alternately heavenly and nasal, in chordal harmony at one moment and set in deliciously sour contrast with each other the next.

Track originally posted at More from Sea Beau, who is based in Toronto, Canada, at

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Two Irish Musicians Channel a Snowstorm

Linda Buckley teams up with Mmoths

In a collaboration with Mmoths (aka Jack Colleran), Linda Buckley has produced this deep, echoing, five-minute stretch of digitally enhanced vocalizing. (Buckley, like Colleran, is Irish.) As the piece proceeds, quick bits of glitch begin to infect it, positing fissures amid the otherwise cloud-like spaciousness, the fog-rich expanse of soft vocals that is the overall content and shape of the piece. In effect, the track, which is titled “Seventeen Snow,” sets a particular tone and then introduces a direct contrast, challening itself to remain true to the initial path, despite the disturbance, the artful act of self-sabotage. It does so, expertly. And if we’re in for a long winter, then listening to “Seventeen Snow” on repeat will be a fine way to spend it.

Track originally posted at More from Buckley at More from Mmoths at

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Will the Circle to Be Broken

By the Boston-based Erika Nesse

Erika Nesse does tremendous work with fractal processing of sound. For “Unbroken” she takes her own singing of the classic hymn “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” and then proceeds to break the soft, slow rendition into numerous infinitesimal little pieces, countless splinters. Those are then rectified into a stream of unintelligible matter that nonetheless seems to retain much of the emotion, much of the sad-toned truth, of the original. Nesse then layers longer segments of her own voice, held vowels and looped syllables, atop the frayed, expertly random, blissfully raging current. She wills the classic to be broken, and then challenges it to reassemble itself. How much of that reassembly takes place in the music and how much takes place in the listener’s imagination is the question that lingers.

Track originally posted at Based in Boston, Nesse explores the topic of fractal music at More from her at and

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Angela Wilson + Devin Sarno’s Dark Homeland

Five minutes of industrial dread

“Homeland” is a dark sonic phantasm, a five-minute dip into an echoing space that’s all muffled voices, anxious activity, and industrial dread. The track is a collaboration between Angela Wilson and Devin Sarno, heard nudging sublimated vocals, affectless expressions whose distorted syllables merge with the overall sound design. The underlying audio is a droning substrate, seemingly the result of some heavily mediated string instrument, mixed here with those contorted vocals and scratchy field recordings. In a brief post at Sarno’s website mentions that the collaboration was virtual, the two musicians trading files via email.

Later, on Facebook, Wilson wrote a bit about the process of the track: “After I read this I realized I never shared my process, this track is a culmination of extra wet granulated metro voice memos, and melting ice, under the dripping electric bass loops of Devin Sarno.”

Track originally posted at More from Sarno, who is based in Los Angeles, at More from Wilson, also from Los Angeles, at

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